U.S. Travel sent a letter on Thursday to Chairman Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Ranking Member Joe Manchin (D-WV) of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources expressing support for the Natural Resources Management Act (S. 47).

The bipartisan package of more than 100 bills includes measures to permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund; increase access for hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities on federal lands; provide economic development for communities through land exchanges; and conserve lands of special importance.

The package was originally introduced in the 115th Congress and had provisions sponsored by 50 senators.

“The vast majority of bills in this package have been considered through the regular order process and have strong support from members of both parties. States and communities throughout the west, in particular, are counting on us to work together to pass them into law,” said Senator Murkowski and then-outgoing Ranking Member Maria Cantwell (D-WA) in a joint statement announcing the bill’s reintroduction.

U.S. Travel welcomes the reintroduction of the bill, and applauds Senators Murkowski and Manchin for their dedication to the future of our public lands. This bill is an important first step toward preserving our national parks and public lands and ensuring their accessibility to domestic and international visitors. 

Another important effort to tackle is the establishment of a dedicated source of funding to address the $12 billion maintenance backlog in our national parks. In 2017, 331 million national parks visitors spent $18 billion in gateway communities, which supported 306,000 jobs and generated nearly $36 billion in national economic output. The economies of countless gateway communities nationwide rely on a robust and well-maintained parks system, but crumbling infrastructure and inadequate facilities threaten the future of park visitation. 

The Natural Resources Management Act is a crucial first step in addressing the needs of our public lands, and is very much supported by U.S. Travel. We hope Congress will use this momentum to also address the maintenance issues in the national parks, and look forward to working with Senators Murkowski and Manchin and the rest of the committee to move this initiative forward.